I welcome comments, but please... no preaching, testimonies, or hate mail."No preaching, testimonies, or hate mail, eh? So you can dish it out but you can't take it, hmm?" By "preaching" I mean a message that consists merely of admonitions (usually with scriptural references), assurances that God loves me, reminders that I am going to be judged or will go to hell, scolding me for believing as I do, accusing me of sinfulness, pride, suggestions of how I might better spend my time. Preaching, whether in church or in an e-mail, does absolutely nothing to change anyone's beliefs. Preaching is usually effective only on those who already believe and who are willing to ascribe some authority or obedience to the preacher. Since I do not believe, and see no reason to grant you any authority or duty of obedience or superiority of wisdom, a sermon which appeals only to emotions or to scriptures (to which I concede no authority) will have no effect on me. If you feel the need to change my views, then try using facts, verifiable facts.
By "testimonies" I mean a message that consists of your own personal conversion story - usually based on some miraculous cure or answers to your prayers, or of assurances that you personally know that your religion is true (assuming therefore that I should take your word for it). This is what Christians call "witnessing" and Mormons call "bearing your testimony." I ignore such messages for a good reason. It is not that I deny that your miraculous cures occurred, or that you really got what you requested in your prayers. I have no doubt that they really happened. The reason I do not doubt that such things happened to you is that such things happen to everyone, regardless of their religious belief (or lack of belief). It is only your groundless explanation for their cause that I doubt. Surely you would not accept a miraculous cure of a Muslim or the answer to a pagan's prayer as evidence of the truth of their religions. For the same reason your explanation seems just as invalid to me as theirs does to you.
I consider as "hate mail" messages (often typed in all caps, with plenty of obscenities and misspelled words) that are nothing but venomous rantings like "YOU ARE EVIL!!!! SATAN IS IN YOU!!! YOU FAG LOVER!!! I HOPE YOU DYE A MISERBLE DETH!!!" People who write such stuff probably should be put on sedation and institutionalized. If you are tempted to send such a comment, please start taking your medications again, and call your therapist.
I think you will have to admit that none of the materials on my website could be described as "preaching, testimonies, or hate." The worst that can be said about my materials is that some of them are a little satirical, because I think that sometimes gentle satire is a useful and effective tool to expose pomposity and absurdities. Also, some of my materials are clearly the expression of my own opinions, which I try to express in a way that should offend no one except those who violently disagree with me and think that their opinions are the only valid ones.
I try to respond to all who comment on my website, whether the comments are positive or negative. I appreciate even negative comments if they are constructive, rational and fact-based. I generally make it a rule, when responding to e-mails that I receive, to respond in the same tone as the message to which I am responding: to those who ask politely for information, I politely give it; to those who wish to present arguments or evidence rationally and civilly, I respond rationally and civilly. To those who are rude, in-your-face, ridiculing and ranting, I have no hesitation to respond with the same. (I am not a Christian and do not believe in "turning the other cheek"). However, if the only comments you have to make are just preaching, testimonies or hateful, you might as well save your energy, since such comments serve no purpose except perhaps to allow you to vent. Don't bother to send them, because I will disregard them.
And remember, I did not go looking for you. You somehow found me.
And thank you for visiting my site.
- Richard Packham